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Kristalyn Lee represents businesses in employment disputes and litigation before various governmental agencies, in state and federal court, arbitration, and pre-litigation resolution. Her employment practice focuses on defending employers in disputes involving discrimination, harassment, retaliation and wage-and-hour claims.

Q: Is there new legislation that expands COVID-19 protections to California employees?

A: Since the beginning of 2020, employers have had to make significant changes to their operations due to an increasing number of newly enacted legislation and requirements in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. As we enter the final quarter of 2020, California employers must again quickly respond to new legislation that expands COVID-19 protections to California employees and imposes stringent requirements on California employers. This month, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed three COVID-19-related bills into law that affect employee rights: (1) SB 1159, (2) AB 659, and (3) AB 1867.

Senate Bill 1159: “Workers’ Compensation: COVID-19”

Effective immediately for California employers with 5 or more employees, Senate Bill 1159 creates a presumption of entitlement to workers’ compensation benefits for employees infected with COVID-19 if:

  • The employee tested positive for or was diagnosed with COVID-19 within 14 days after performing labor or services at the employee’s “place of employment” (excluding the employee’s residence) at the employer’s direction; and
  • The employee tests positive during an “outbreak” at the specific place of employment (as determined by the employer’s claims administrator).


Continue Reading California Governor Expands COVID-19 Protections for California Employees and Imposes Additional Requirements on California Employers

At the end of last year, we reported that a federal district court had imposed a last-minute temporary restraining order to block California from enforcing its new law (AB 51), which would have imposed criminal penalties on California employers that use mandatory arbitration agreements. That court has now issued a preliminary injunction that continues to

Beginning January 1, 2020, California law (known as AB 51) makes it a criminal misdemeanor for employers to require arbitration as a condition of employment. The law specifically prohibits mandatory arbitration of claims under the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (such as for discrimination, harassment, and retaliation) and claims for violations of the California

On September 18, 2019, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed into effect the much-anticipated AB-5 Bill, which imposes heightened standards when assessing whether to classify workers as independent contractors rather than employees. AB-5 will drastically affect California employers with workforces heavily reliant on independent contractors by forcing them to re-classify independent contractors as employees subject

On September 12, 2019, the California Supreme Court ruled that an aggrieved employee bringing a representative action under California’s Private Attorneys General Act (PAGA) cannot recover unpaid wages. In ZB N.A. v. Superior Court, the plaintiff, Kalethia Lawson, brought a lawsuit alleging a sole cause of action under PAGA. She based her PAGA claim

In a 2-1 ruling on February 4, 2019, the Second Appellate District of the California Court of Appeals expanded requirements for reporting time pay by ruling that a California employer would owe reporting time pay if it requires an employee to call in to confirm a scheduled on-call shift, even when the employee does not